A trans woman in France has won election in her local commune to become the country's first openly transgender mayor. The council in Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes in northeastern France chose Marie Cau as its new mayor.
The 55-year-old ran on a platform of ecological sustainability and building the local economy. Ms Cau said she was "not an activist" and wanted to focus on municipal politics. "People did not elect me because I was or was not transgender, they elected a programme. That's what's interesting: when things become normal, you don't get singled out."
France's gender equality minister Marlène Schiappa tweeted her support: "Trans visibility, and the fight against transphobia, also depends on exercising political and public responsibilities. Congratulations Marie Cau!"
Karen Shainyan, 39, a Moscow-based editor and writer, hosts the show Straight Talk with Gay People. His Youtube channel has over 1,64m subscriptors. Unusually for a gay Russian, Shainyan has never kept his sexuality a secret.
To encourage Russian celebrities to come out as LGBT, he’s been interviewing high-profile LGBT celebrities from different countries. Despite the horrific attacks on LGBT people in Russia, Shainyan hopes that through education people can be liberated.
Shainyan told: “Ignorance and indifference are the key reasons behind the worst homophobia.” And he added: “To Russian celebrities, coming out means a political message, a demand for having certain rights. But a public coming-out would mean an immediate huge loss of access to the concert halls.”
In the three months since he published them, more than three million people have watched his conversations with them on YouTube.
“The idea of the project is to attract the attention of a broader audience and expose all the existing myths around LGBT people,” he said.
“Since as soon as people hear the word ‘gay’ in the Russian media agenda, it always comes from two poles, either from homophobes and state propaganda calling to bring the Soviet criminal law back to the legislation or from LGBT activists, who use the word in the context of their fight, violated rights or clashes with police."
“These are two radical contexts, while in reality, several million Russian LGBT people are muted, they are not represented in the public space.”
Costa Rica has become the first Central American country to legalize same-sex marriage.
Thousands of people watched a nationally televised celebration as Costa Rica took a historic step forward. At 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, May 26, Costa Rica’s Family Code was automatically modified to remove the sixth item of article 14, which said marriage between people of the same sex was “legally impossible.”
Out, a short film from Pixar Animation Studios streaming on Disney+, features Pixar’s first gay main character. The short film is written and directed by Steven Clay Hunter, who is known for his work on Hercules (1997), The Incredibles (2004), Wall·E (2008) and Finding Dory (2016).
The 9-minute film debuted as one of seven films in the studio’s SparkShorts program. SparkShorts aims to “discover new storytellers, explore new storytelling techniques, and experiment with new production workflows,” in the words of Pixar president Jim Morris. “These films are unlike anything we’ve ever done at Pixar, providing an opportunity to unlock the potential of individual artists and their inventive filmmaking approaches on a smaller scale than our normal fare.”
In the film, main character Greg is preparing to move into the city with his boyfriend, Manuel. Greg is gripped by the difficulty of coming out as gay to his parents, who have paid a surprise visit to help him pack for his move. A dramatic series of events initiated by the couple’s dog ensues. As the official logline puts it, “With some help from his precocious pup, and a little bit of magic, Greg might learn that he has nothing to hide.”
A shocking new report from the FRA, titled A long way to go for LGBT equality, has revealed the levels of anti-LGBT discrimination across Europe. The report asked 140,000 LGBT people from all EU member states as well as the United Kingdom, North Macedonia and Serbia about their experiences.
Some of the most shocking results found that six in ten LGBT Europeans are fearful of holding their partner’s hand in public; two in five had been harassed the year before the survey, and one in five trans or intersex people had been physically or sexually assaulted the year before, this was double the amount for other groups.
The survey also threw up results which showed the differing pictures between different countries. In countries like Ireland and Finland, over 70% of respondents felt that LGBT rights had improved, whereas in countries like Poland and France the majority felt that intolerance was on the increase.
While progress has been made for some parts of the community, these findings clearly show that LGBT people still have a long way to go. It must also remember that the great strides in equality that some enjoy today are not shared by everyone in LGBT community.
Albania’s leading psychologists’ organisation has barred members from carrying out so-called “conversion therapy” which aims to make gay people straight, as countries around the world consider laws to ban the controversial practice.
The statement further pointed out that all registered therapists in Albania must be members of the order of psychologists and that its decisions are final and "legally valid." Medical professional bodies have dismissed such psychological or spiritual interventions as pseudo-scientific, ineffective and often harmful.
The therapy uses a range of methods to "change" sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. The most controversial being the administration of electric shocks as subjects view images of homosexual acts or injections of the male hormone testosterone.
The Hungarian Parliament voted 133 in favour, 57 opposed, to approve an omnibus bill, one article of which replaces the category of “sex” on the civil registry with one of “sex assigned at birth”.
The Article 33 amends the civil registry document, which is used as the basis for all legal identity documents for Hungarian citizens. Replacing the changeable characteristic of “sex” with an immutable one, “sex assigned at birth”, in practice Hungary has made legal gender recognition, the process by which trans and intersex people can bring their documents into alignment with their gender identity, impossible.
Before the proposal of this omnibus bill, the situation was bleak for trans and intersex Hungarians. According to the Second LGBTI Survey of the Fundamental Rights Agency, published last week, 76% of trans Hungarians believe that the Hungarian government “definitely does not effectively combat prejudice and intolerance against LGBTI people”.
Additionally, 84% of trans respondents in Hungary reported that the main reason for increasing prejudice, intolerance, or violence in the country was “Negative stance and discourse by politicians and/or political parties”.
What a shame! Europe has nothing to say?
Hungary President Orban is well known as anti LGBT rights
Released the ILGA-Europe's Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex People in Europe and Central Asia, covering the period of January to December 2019. They examine the advances made and provided concrete examples of on-the-ground situations at national level country-by-country in the 12 months from January to December 2019.
There continues to be big wins for LGBT people in Europe, and developments that point towards further legislative and social progress, but while this paints an image of the region as a leading light in terms of the recognition of LGBT rights and equality, it’s a surface impression that does not tell a complete or accurate story.
Yes, there are good news stories, which we must acknowledge and celebrate, but while we pay attention to positive developments, we must not be blind to the larger picture, which is less reassuring. In last year’s Review, there were identified signs that recent wins for the LGBT movement were fragile, and a very real rollback in rights and attitudes. In 2019, this rollback took root in a sharp rise of hate speech across the region, often carried out by public figures.
There has also been the growing presence of anti-LGBT, anti-gender and neo-Nazi protesters in public spaces during events such as Pride parades and film screenings. In several cities LGBT centres were targeted with graffiti and other such attacks. Reports of the murder and torture of gay and lesbian people in Chechnya have resurfaced, while police violence is systemic in a number of countries in Central Asia and Caucasus, with gay men and trans people being particularly vulnerable.
Read here the Annual Review for more details, and see the Rainbow Map&Index below:
Brazil's supreme court has overturned restrictions on gay and bisexual men donating blood, in what's being heralded a victory for LGBT campaigners in the country.
Seven of 11 justices at the Supreme Federal Court in Brasília voted to end rules banning men who've had sex with men within the previous 12 months from donating blood.
The court said the rules were unconstitutional because it imposed restrictions on the basis of sexual orientation. “Instead of the state enabling these people to promote good by donating blood, it unduly restricts solidarity based on prejudice and discrimination,” supreme court minister Edson Fachin wrote in his vote.
In recent weeks, the United States, Denmark, Hungary and Northern Ireland have all reduced blood donation restrictions for gay and bisexual men from 12 months to three months, as the coronavirus pandemic increases pressure on blood supplies.
Despite President Bolsonaro is well known as detractor of LGBT rights, Brazilian Supreme Court stands for equality. Last year a majority of judges also voted to treat homophobia and transphobia as crimes, so the acts of discrimination are punishable by prison.
Children worldwide have been drawing rainbows and hanging them in windows to comfort others during the coronavirus pandemic. But, the Turkish government has ordered schools to stop letting kids draw rainbows because it’s an international plot "to turn children gay”.
Egitim-Sen, a teachers’ trade union, confirmed administrators were being instructed to end any participation in the project. Local activists say the Turkish government has been amping up attacks on the LGBT community.
Some of the commentators on mainstream and social media have stepped up their attacks on the LGBT community during the coronavirus pandemic. It is particularly perturbing that this hate speech is repeated by officials who portray the LGBT as the culprits, rather than victims, of the pandemic. If this hate speech continues after the pandemic, it could become a permanent fixture of the political rhetoric.
Authoritarian Turkish President Recep Erdoğan has repeatedly used LGBT people as a scapegoat for the country’s problems. Recently, he defended a cleric who said homosexuality "brings illnesses and corrupts generations.”
A Tunisian LGBT right organisation based in the country has revealed that Tunisia may become the first Arab state to recognise a same-sex marriage.
According to the gay rights association Shams, a marriage between a French man and a Tunisian man was legally recognised in Tunisia, thought to be the first of its kind. It is thought the couple had gotten the marriage recognised by Tunisian authorities via a loophole, as the union had been formalised in France.
But homosexuality is illegal in the Muslim-majority country and homosexual acts are punishable with jail. Obiviously, same-sex marriages are also not permitted. The Tunisian police also continue to subject men accused of same-sex relations to forced anal examinations, in violation of the prohibition against torture under international law. And trans people continue to face harassment from the police and live in constant fear of being arrested under vague laws.
A Tunisian news website contacted the Tunisian government, and did not confirm or deny whether the marriage had been recognised. But, one minister said on his own: "We are therefore in the process of verifying the information. If it is true, know that it is against the law. Our laws do not allow recognition of same-sex marriage by other countries. There was a precedent, an error committed by the municipality of Tunis, and it was rectified."
It is also known that Tunisia’s president Kais Saied supports the criminalization of homosexuality. He has often termed gay people “deviants” and he defends Sharia law and the capital punishment for LGBT people.
No way, Tunisia will not become the first Arab country to legalise gay marriage.
Germany has banned gay conversion therapy for minors, in another huge step in ending the abusive practice. The German Parliament passed a bill outlawing services which claim to change seuxal orientation for under-18s.
Under the law, minors will not be allowed to take part in medical interventions aimed at changing or suppressing their sexual orientation or gender identity. Parents and legal guardians can also be punished for making their children take part through deception, coercion or threats. Those breaking the new law can face up to a year in prison, or a €30,000 fine.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said a robust law was needed to protect it from court challenges, adding that most people who attended treatment were young people forced to do so by others. "They should feel strengthened when the state, when society, when Parliament makes it clear: we do not want that in this country," said Spahn, who is gay himself.
The move makes Germany the world's fifth country to outlaw gay conversion therapy for minors at a nationwide level after similar bans were introduced in Malta, Ecuador, Brazil and Taiwan. The practice is also outlawed in certain Australian, Canadian and the US state.
Health Minister Spahn and the Chancellor Angela Merkel
The United Nations has told countries they should not use the coronavirus pandemic to undermine LGBT rights. Moreover, it has said states should be aware that LGB people may be particularly vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis. And that officials should not discriminate against them.
The instructions come from Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In particular, she singled out Hungary for criticism. Bachelet said: "In at least one country, the State of Emergency has been used to propose a decree that would prevent transgender people from legally changing their gender in identity documents."
Bachelet also warned against an increase in homophobic and transphobic rhetoric in Poland. She said: "LGBTI people have previously been blamed for disasters, both manmade and natural, and there are scattered reports of this happening in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic."
Moreover Bachelet spoke out against reports of police using COVID-19 directives to attack and target LGBTI organizations. This has happened in Uganda where local authorities abused their powers to raid an LGBT shelter, arresting 23 people.
Bachelet went on to talk about the danger LGBT people face from domestic violence. She said: "Due to stay-at-home restrictions, many LGBT youth are confined in hostile environments with unsupportive family members or co-habitants. This can increase their exposure to violence, as well as their anxiety and depression."
She added: "Homeless persons, a population that includes many LGTB people, are less able to protect themselves through physical distancing and safe hygiene practices, increasing their exposure to contagion."
She also pointed out that LGBT people regularly experience stigma and discrimination while seeking health services already. In countries where laws criminalize gay, bi and trans people they may not access healthcare services for fear of arrest or violence.
Finally, the UN document warned about the economic hardship the community faces. It says LGBT people are more likely not to have jobs or to live in poverty. Many in the LGBT community work in the informal sector and lack access to paid sick leave, unemployment compensation, and coverage.
To tackle these problems, Bachelet said countries should ensure LGBT people are taken into consideration and their voices heard when addressing the pandemic. And the UN has provided a six-point plan of action:
1 - It instructs states to ensure they do not discriminate against LGBT people when the access healthcare. And it adds people should not ‘fear retribution for seeking healthcare’. The UN accepts countries have to change health services to focus on the virus. But they must not discriminate against LGBT people when making those decisions.
2 - When addressing the ‘socio-economic impacts of the pandemic’ states ‘should consider the particular vulnerabilities of LGBTI people’. In particular the UN mentions protecting older and homeless LGBT people.
3 - It calls on ‘political leaders and other influential figures’ to speak out against ‘hate speech directed at the LGBT people in the context of the pandemic’.
4 - ‘Shelters, support services and other measures to address gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic should take steps to include the LGBT population.’
5 - States should not use states of emergency to attack existing rights for LGBT people.
6 - Where countries restrict movement, they should protect ‘trans and gender non-conforming persons’. The UN adds that countries should instruct and train police not to discriminate against them.
The Barcelona Gay Men Chorus (BGMC) is a chorus mainly formed by gay men which presents a quality musical proposal with a varied repertoire and an attractive staging, not being necessary to have previous experience but to show commitment and attitude.
BGMC aims to give visibility and normalize homosexuality through its performances, openly showing men who express themselves freely as homoaffective people and focused on a general audience, not exclusively LGBT.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the men of BGMC have recorded a song from their homes about a dream. They shared the song and wrote:
"If anything has brought us closer together during these days in lockdown, it’s a shared dream, a new world without borders. We’re all eager to get our freedom back and to once again feel the love of all those who used to surround us.
Now is the time to change, and just about anything is possible with the right amount of determination. We want to share our dream with you through our rendition of “Sueña”. It’s a celebration of our will to live and, above all, our desire to continue dreaming.
Anderson Cooper has provided some much-needed good news in these dark times after announcing the birth of his first child. The CNN news anchor, 52, took to Instagram to share a picture of himself with three-day-old son Wyatt, who was born via surrogate.
"I want to share with you some joyful news. On Monday, I became a father. This is Wyatt Cooper. He is three days old", Cooper wrote.
"He is named after my father, who died when I was ten. I hope I can be as good a dad as he was. My son's middle name is Morgan. It's a family name on my mom's side". And he added: "Wyatt Morgan Cooper. My son. He was 7.2 lbs at birth, and he is sweet, and soft, and healthy and I am beyond happy."
"As a gay kid, I never thought it would be possible to have a child, and I’m grateful for all those who have paved the way, and for the doctors and nurses and everyone involved in my son's birth", he wrote.
Directed by Benjamin Howard from a script co-written with James Hall, Deviant is both a period piece that captures a part of history that many would like to forget and a thoughtful drama about faith and redemption.
In the early 1960s, Marcel is a homosexual teenager whose desires are discovered by his mother. Keen to “cure” him of his ailment, she puts him in electrotherapeutic conversion therapy. But the therapy is tortuous and brutal, leaving Marcel shell-shocked and stunned.
The storytelling delves into the barbaric nature of its old-fashioned “conversion therapy” that Marcel undergoes, but he doesn’t change his inclinations. Instead, he emerges from the treatments conflicted, bewildered and ashamed of himself, a change detailed with great subtlety by actor Rudy Pankow (Outer Banks). The shocks he received haven’t changed him, but only broken him inside and shattered any inner sense of wholeness or worth.
Between the 1940's-1960's, homosexuals were often involuntarily committed to psychiatric facilities by their own families, where they were promised to be cured of their "sexual illness". Methods used "to cure" homosexuality included electroshock therapy, castration, medical torture and transorbital lobotomies.
The American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973. Only nine U.S. states have laws in place banning the use of conversion therapy on minors.